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Early trout season

Fishing Wisconsin

Early Trout Season
A nice early season trout.


You've been dreaming about it since last year and it's finally here. The early catch-and-release trout season opens at 5 a.m. on January 2 and runs until midnight April 30.

  • Anglers are not required to use barbless hooks. Artificial lures and flies are still required.
  • Wisconsin's official maps of classified trout streams have been updated and contain 41 more streams that have been classified as trout waters since 2014. Most of those 292 miles are found in west central and southern Wisconsin counties and will be open for the early season.
  • New online maps and interactive maps will make all of the trout waters easier to find and provide other information to increase anglers’ success.




The early inland trout season on selected waters [PDF] runs from 5 a.m. on the first Saturday in January (January 2, 2021) through the Friday preceding the first Saturday in May (April 30, 2021}.


The Trout Regulations & Opportunities User Tool (TROUT) was designed to help trout anglers find places to fish. TROUT includes trout fishing regulation, classified trout water, public land and DNR fishing easements.


Bitten early by the big trout bug

I don't like fishing alone. After all, if I have a fishing partner I have someone to talk to and a photo subject, too. But last spring, I found myself fishing a woody stretch of stream alone. I wanted — no needed — to be alone. To have some "me" time. Some bad news about a friend had me thinking about life and why I spend so much of mine on [PDF].

Improving your early trout season experience

"Tried and true" trout waters

If you’re in the market for a new adventure, try some of these waters [PDF] that DNR fish biologists, supervisors, technicians and hatchery personnel identify as their favorites for the early catch and release trout season.

More resources

Check out these other trout resources to make the most of your time on the water.